QA City

Rajini Padmanaban

Rajini Padmanaban
Director
Engagement
- Global
Testing
Services,QA
InfoTech
The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here

I started my career in software development in Polaris, but very soon I switched to Software Testing and Quality Assurance. It has been over 10 years now and there is no looking back. In the QA space, I have played multiple roles such as a tester, test lead, test manager, project manager, engagement manager etc. The willingness to take on new roles and explore opportunities yet retaining focus on my core testing discipline has empowered me to progress in my career.

Decisions That Mattered

When I had the opportunity to move into project management early on in my career, it was a challenging decision to make; specifically, I wanted to retain my technical focus and not dilute it with project management responsibilities. However since I was conscious of what I wanted, I was able to handle this well; being a hands on project manager, which not only helped me grow both in the test and technical ladder, but also add a lot of value in client assignments

The Turning Points

I started my testing career in a small company called Disha Technologies. We were barely 150 people back then in 2002. In the 8 years I was with the company, we went through two acquisitions, and when I left the company to join QA InfoTech (my current employer), the company was part of MindTree and we were over 8000 people in head count. These acquisitions, the exposure of working with executive management when we were a small company, the nuances of cross group interactions when we became part of larger companies, all gave me a very varied set of experiences, which significantly helped shape my career.

Work and Role: Then and Now

There is a lot of test evangelism that I do in my current job which is very creative and exciting. Besides the core brand building that it helps me do for QA InfoTech, the knowledge sharing it promotes is very gratifying. I was able to evangelize periodically, while at MindTree, but QA InfoTech provides me several more opportunities and bandwidth for these activities.

Two Years Down the Line

In the position I hold at QA InfoTech as part of the management team, I hope to play a more pivotal role in continuing to establish QA InfoTech as a leader in independent software testing and quality assurance. I also want establish my position in the testing community through several articles, blogs, conference presentations etc. which will not only promote knowledge sharing but also offer excellent learning and networking opportunities for me amongst test professionals.

What I Learnt Along the Way

Do not hesitate to take on more responsibilities and challenges; proactively think about how to align such additional roles with your overall career progression. Establish open channels of communication with various people that you work with and focus on building a good rapport with them, as often times issues arise not due to lack of competency but due to lack of clear communication amongst various people.

Changing Days: Lessons Learnt

The profession has definitely gained a lot of positive prominence in the last decade. When I started in 2001 it was still at the stage where independent testing was an emerging trend. Software testing was still considered a secondary career option to that of software development. Today, one can build a complete career path in software testing and quality assurance, be it in the technical or the managerial ladder. A lot of specialized test options such as performance, automation, security, localization, accessibility have become the need of the day providing both generic and specialized job opportunities. Besides the career angle, all of these changes are helping build products of great quality and have given the testing profession an overall facelift.

Trends to Watch Out For

The last few years have seen major evolutions in the computing world especially in the mobile space. We are in an exciting time period, witnessing some revolutionary changes in the technology space, which are here to last for years to come. I had blogged on this topic a few months back, which I would like to share with you all at: http://www.qainfotech.com/blog/2012/01/keeping-pace-with-the-changes-in-the-computing-world/. While the industry is looking for ways and means to achieve fast time to market at a reduced cost, what some of these changes would mean is a revisited focus on manual testing. From a career standpoint, it would be interesting to see manual testing re-gain prominence to accommodate some of these newer technologies, rather than heavily depending on automated testing.

My Advice If You are Starting Out

One should really come in with an open mind. The options are plenty in this profession. It is important to understand the core traits to be a successful tester and then gradually explore what specialization to focus on. Being proactive will really help the tester succeed. Testing is a unique profession which has excellent opportunities to interface with several internal groups in the product development team as well as on the client/end user side. One should really make the best use of this unique position to be an advocate of quality helping ship great products to the end user community.

Must Focus Areas For the Future

Looking at some of the current scenarios and some futuristic trends, mobile testing, application compatibility testing, cloud based testing, test automation, performance testing, data warehousing/business intelligence, manual testing with focus on areas such as accessibility, gestures are some areas that will continue to be prominent in the years to come.

Do We Need Certifications?

Certifications are an important tool for ongoing learning and certainly represent a professional body of knowledge. That said it is important to pick the right certifications to ensure they offer a good balance of theoretical and practical know how. What certifications to choose really depend on the stage the tester is, in his/her career. There are several certifications at the foundation and expertise level from recognized institutions such as ISTQB as well as technology specific certifications from companies such as Microsoft, Cisco etc. to name some. Before opting for a certification it is important to decide how it aligns with one's career progression and then pick the right ones.

Books/ Websites I Recommend

Ample resources are available to the tester today both in print and online mediums. Trying to keep track of several such resources would only get overwhelming and probably be counter-productive. Pick and choose a few based on areas you want to specialize in giving you a balance of technical, test and market information. I typically follow Better Software Magazine/Sticky Minds, Information Week both as magazines and TechFlash for online updates. Depending on my current area of work and interest I periodically read books. The most recent book I read was "The Wisdom of the Crowds" by James Suroweicki.

Last But Not Least

As mentioned previously, today's testers' are at a very advantageous position in terms of the resources available to them, the respect the profession has earned and specialization opportunities available. One needs to be proactive though to think out of the box in terms of adding value and truly driving in quality, to the end users. Focus on developing a holistic career growth instead of waiting for instructions from managers on what needs to be done, and you will soon see you have surpassed your other colleagues in your career.

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